Former (is it former?) Public Enemy hypeman and current human cartoon Flavor Flav is opening a fried chicken restaurant in a tiny Iowa town with a population of 26,000. The very notion of Flav's golden grill chomping into some crispy eats thereby generating billions of fried chicken shards that rain down upon his oversized neck clock has gotten the blogs a-buzzin. But Flav's not the only musician–or whatever he is–who got bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. Here's the Top Ten Musician-Owned-and-Operated Restaurants (alright Musician-Branded is more like it) for your viewing pleasure.
Flav talks about his business model:
10. Fatburger – Kanye West/ Queen Latifah
Fatburger has burgers that get you fat. It's not just a clever name. It's a reality. With thick greasy burgers and even a burg with a fried egg on top, Fatburgers will fatify your ass in .5 seconds flat. And yes, they are totally delicious. Apparently this sentiment is shared by both Queen Latifah and Kanye West who have snatched up a few Fatburger franchises, adding the fast food chain to their many conquests in and out of the music industry. Unfortunately, one of West's two Fatburgers was shuttered recently, but his other Chicago store is reportedly still poppin'.
9. Buffalo Boss – Jay – Z
Jay-Z's fortune has extended across industries, from the 40/40 club to the New Jersey Nets to the Spotted Pig gastropub in the West Village. But earlier this month HOVA put his money into a small business. Jay-z dropped some cash to support his cousin's chicken shack. The Brooklyn wings joint, Buffalo Boss, claims to have “organic chicken, no hormones, no transfat, no bull! Just Buffalo!”
Here in Los Angeles, Roscoes' has a ironclad grip on the chicken and waffles market. But in Atlanta, R&B icon Gladys Knight and gospel signer Ron Winans have ventured into the soul food market. With dishes like Sassy BBQ Turkey Wings, Big B's Beef Sausage, and the Midnight train, the Hotlanta venue serves up soulful comfort food.
7. Southern Hospitality – Justin Timberlake
New York City isn't known for its fine Southern food and Justin Timberlake has a reputation for bringing sexy back, not baby back ribs. He sought out to change that with his restaurant Southern Hospitality. Taking a cue from his own Southern roots, Timberlake teamed up with restauranteur Eytan Sugarman for the Manhattan BBQ outpost. Crawfish hushpuppies, Memphis-style dry rubbed spareribs, and peach crisp with vanilla ice cream make Timberlake's cut.
If Sean “P.Diddy” Combs has a chance to slap his name on something he'll do it. He's the king of endorsements and business partnerships. Yet, with Justin's, his NYC and Atlanta's restaurants, Combs says the effort is a family affair. Named after Puffy's son Justin, not Mr. Timberlake, and reportedly inspired by his grandmother's cooking, Justin's serves up blackened stuffed catfish, West Indian curry chicken, and a cocktail embarrassingly named the “Pussy Kat Relaxer.”
5..Cabo Wabo – Sammy Hagar
The curly maned Van Halen singer's Cabo San Lucas restaurant/concert venue/dispenser y of body shots is the epitome of spring break. If a questionable decision is going to be made in Mexico, Cabo Wabo will be the place to do it. Many tramp stamps have been sketched out on cocktail napkins here at Hagar's institution. Cabo Wabo was expanded into a successful tequila brand and Hagar has expanded his franchise to other cities where bad decisions are made: Vegas and Lake Tahoe.
4. Straits – Ludacris
When rappers make it big, they hire super smart business people to manage their fortunes, and often, a restaurant makes it onto the list of financial endeavors. Ludacris teamed up with chef Chris Yeo in 2007 to expand the well-regarded restaurateur's Straits Asian kitchen to Atlanta. The high end cuisine seems to fit the man with a penchant for Cadillac grills.
3. NYLA – Britney Spears
They say that the first year of a business is its hardest, and the same is true for restaurants owned by music industry types. In 2002, a pre-K-Fed, pre-headshave Britney Spears started a restaurant in Manhattan called NYLA (after Louisiana, not Los Angeles). After just five months, she abandoned the project due to conflicts with the management. Apparently, the management wasn't the only flaw in Spears' plan, the restaurant was cited for minor health code violations. A year later they were they owed $400,000 to their suppliers, who never were paid by Spears' place. Like Flava Flav says: Don't believe the hype.
2. TeaNY – Moby
The once militant vegan-turned-mellow electro composer Moby opened his Lower East Side tea house in 2002 with his then girlfriend Kelly Tisdale. The minimalist decor, wide array of teas, and vegan dishes make for a pretty nice and quiet cafe in the bustle of New York City. Is there anything Moby can't do? (Oh yes–make people stop thinking he's annoying.)
And the Number One Musician-Branded Restaurant (chain) is…
There was a time Kenny Rogers' chicken chain was at the top of the world. Kenny Rogers' Roasters could be found in mall food courts across America and Seinfeld even devoted an entire episode to Kramer's chicken addiction. Then hard times befell Rogers' chicken empire, which went bankrupt in 1998, forcing them to sell to Hot Dog company Nathan's Famous. Then the company closed all American operations except for the location in the L.A. area Ontario Hills mall. But apparently the chain is still successful in Asia, so if you want a more exotic experience than the Ontario Mall, perhaps you should check out Kenny Roger's Mongolia, Indonesia and Bahrain branches. (Or you can still go to freaking Ontario and party like it's 1996, but in a hellish suburban mall just waiting for some George Romero zombies to smash the glass doors and turn the last standing Kenny Rogers' Roasters into their own personal brains joint.)